Flaky tests are poisoning your productivity

Picture of Trisha's face frowning and the title "Flaky Tests"

I freaking HATE flaky tests.

The first time I worked in an environment that had real Continuous Integration with Actual Automated Tests that Actually Ran, it was like... freedom. We literally got the green light that our new code was working as expected, and that any changes we made hadn't broken anything. And refactoring... before then, I don't think I had ever really refactored anything. Even a simple rename was fraught with danger, you never knew if reflection or some sort of odd log-file parsing was dependent upon specific class or method names. With a comprehensive suite of unit, acceptance and performance tests, we had this blissful safety net that would tell us "Everything Is OK" after we'd done simple or extensive refactoring.


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It’s not you, it’s them

I believe in asking for help, for being vulnerable about the things we don't know, especially if we've been in industry a long time. We can't possibly know it all, and it's important to normalise that.

So I wrote a blog post about the thing I was struggling with. Yes, it also had the lovely positive of asking The Internet to solve my problem.

Shocked I was, shocked (no, I was not) to receive responses suggesting that perhaps I was a bit rubbish as a developer.

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Why is it News when a woman becomes CEO?

I'm pleased to see that GM has hired the "best person for the job" as their new CEO - that does seem like a good idea. I'm happy her gender did not get in the way. What makes me uncomfortable is the international news coverage of the decision of this large manufacturer to hire a woman as their CEO - if she were a man (and/or black/gay/disabled) would the headline read "The camera loves her. So do employees."?

But at the root of that is probably the thing I'm most unhappy about. What I'm not happy about is that it is 2014, halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, and she's the first woman CEO of a car manufacturer.

I worked at Ford Motor Company as an undergraduate and, later, a graduate. I basically did my apprenticeship there. I know that over fifteen years ago they were hiring graduates from different disciplines (men and women), they had a women-in-leadership programme (or probably several, as I was only involved in the one for the IT organisation), they had a great maternity package (a great package for adoption too, but only the standard paternity package, ho-hum), on-site creches at the bigger locations, and were actively looking for ways to improve their diversity across the board. They had issues on the plant floor which they were actively working to address, but management did not have a culture of discrimination, to my knowledge. I remember the number of "real" techies in my IT graduate intake year, not the number of women, probably because the women were better represented than the coders.

So why has it taken so long for these old, old companies (Ford turned 100 while I was there) to put a woman into a position of leadership? Maybe all these actions are what has, finally, lead to this mold-breaking appointment. Or maybe decades of doing what is supposed to be the right thing is not having any impact at all - Mary Barra's father worked at GM for 39 years, she herself started there as an intern and engineer, and has worked in different areas of the company as she's risen through the ranks. In this day and age, it's probably more unusual to appoint a CEO who worked their way up to that position in that company than it is to appoint a woman - I'm not sure how many more there are out there when often it seems the best way to get a promotion now is to switch company.

I don't know why it took GM so long to appoint a female CEO, I don't know how they managed to be the first of the big automotives. And although I really hate all this "Oh wow, a woman CEO" news coverage (and I dare not read the comments because I know I'll get angry), I don't know if it's something we need to do, to hold up these positive female role models, or something we should stop doing because all it does is point out how unusual women in leadership are - how news-worthy it is that a big, old organisation has finally joined the 21st century. But the fact that I felt the need to blog about it I think means we still have a lot of work to do in this area.